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Were Early NFL Uniforms Safer Than What Is Worn Today? 0

Posted on January 22, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Imagine a time in the history of American football when helmets were completely optional. That was the reality for early NFL football. In fact, helmets and face guards were not mandatory until 1943 — four years after they became mandatory for collegiate football. Even after the change, older players were allowed to play without a helmet. The last player to do so was Dick Plasman, whose career spanned from 1937 to 1947.

Looking back to a time when players preferred to play the game with no helmet whatsoever, it’s clear that such a policy would be unthinkable today. Odds are better of finding hydroponic nutrients at a local McDonald’s. Was this lax behavior due to ignorance about safety or was the game much different then? Were the NFL’s early uniforms so different that they actually made the game safer?

The Uniform Materials Of Yesteryear

Early American football uniforms were rather simplistic. Taking a look at vintage uniforms, much of the padding was reinforced with leather, at least what little padding there was. Early gridiron veterans resented all the padding. In their eyes, the focus on safety was making the game more “effeminate.” The mental image back then was similar to “A Christmas Story” where your mother didn’t let you out the door unless you were bundled up in layers to the point you couldn’t move.

antique-football-leather-shoulder-pads

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Richard Sherman is a Loudmouth, But Not an Original 0

Posted on January 20, 2014 by Dean Hybl
It might have been better if Richard Sherman had let his play on the field do all his talking.

It might have been better if Richard Sherman had let his play on the field do all his talking.

Much was made on social media of the unsportsmanlike display of Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman after he made a game-saving play in the final seconds of the NFC Championship Game between Seattle and the San Francisco 49ers.

While there is no question that Sherman’s gestures and trash talking at the end of the game were certainly un-called for and slightly diminish the greatness of his play, they are in no way original.

In fact, loud-mouthed defensive backs playing in the Super Bowl dates back to the very first NFL-AFL Championship Game when Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Fred “the Hammer” Williamson garnered headlines for his boasts about how he would handle the receivers for the NFL Champion Green Bay Packers.

“Two hammers to (Boyd) Dowler, one to (Carroll) Dale should be enough,” Williamson claimed.

Interestingly, Williamson and Sherman actually have more in common than just their bravado.

Both players attended schools known more for their academics than their football, Williamson at Northwestern and Sherman at Stanford.

They also were both lightly regarded coming into the NFL.

Williamson was an undrafted free agent and originally signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After spending one season in Pittsburgh, Williamson developed into an All-AFL defensive back during four seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He then moved to Kansas City where he ultimately played three seasons. Read the rest of this entry →

Bart Starr: NFL’s Ultimate Champion 0

Posted on January 20, 2014 by Dean Hybl

The January Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the MVP of the first two Super Bowls and is the only quarterback to lead his team to five NFL Championships.

After quarterbacking the Alabama Crimson Tide to an 0-10 record in 1955 and then being drafted in the 17th round of the 1956 NFL Draft, few would have predicted that Bart Starr would become known as one of the greatest winners in NFL history. Read the rest of this entry →

Peyton Manning Gets Chance to Make Super Bowl History 0

Posted on January 19, 2014 by Dean Hybl
It was thumbs up for Peyton Manning and the Broncos after winning the AFC Championship over the New England Patriots.

It was thumbs up for Peyton Manning and the Broncos after winning the AFC Championship over the New England Patriots.

Just two years removed from surgery that resulted in him missing an entire season and being released by the team he led to a pair of Super Bowl appearances, Peyton Manning is back in the Super Bowl after leading the Denver Broncos to a 26-16 AFC Championship Game victory over the New England Patriots.

When he leads the Broncos into Super Bowl XLVIII, Manning will not only be looking for his second Super Bowl ring, but he will be looking to be the first quarterback to start and win Super Bowls with two different franchises.

Previously, Craig Morton and Kurt Warner led two different franchises to the Super Bowl, but neither could hoist the Lombardi Trophy with both franchises.

Morton was the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII, but his squad lost both games.

Like Manning, Warner was 1-1 in Super Bowl appearances with his first team. He led the St. Louis Rams to victory over the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV and then an upset loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. It took seven years, but Warner was able to get back to the Super Bowl with the Arizona Cardinals as they lost Super Bowl XLIII to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While Warner will likely one day be a Hall of Famer and Morton was a solid NFL quarterback for nearly two decades, neither of them is in the same league as Manning.

Many already consider Manning to be among the greatest quarterbacks of all-time and if he is able to become the 12th starting quarterback to win two Super Bowls it will put an exclamation point on his legacy. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Sports Greats Lost in 2013 1

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Baseball legend Stan Musial passed away in 2013 at age 92.

Baseball legend Stan Musial passed away in 2013 at age 92.

Unfortunately, one of the inevitable aspects of every year is that we must say goodbye to some memorable greats from the sports world who passed away during that year.

2013 was no different as the sports world lost a number of all-time greats along with many others who may not have ended their careers in a sports Hall of Fame, but who left their own marks on the history of sports.

During the year we reflected on the passing of several athletes at the time of their death including Stan Musial, Pat Summerall, Earl Weaver, Deacon Jones, Art Donovan, Bum Phillips and Ed Herrmann. You can remember the legacies of these sports stars by clicking on their name to read the original articles.

In addition to these seven, there were many other well-known figures from the sports world that we lost in 2013. Below are brief remembrances of some of those greats.

Miller Barber – Professional Golfer – 82 years old
After winning 11 PGA Tour tournaments, but never finishing better than fourth in any Major, Barber was one of the early stars of the Senior Tour. He won 24 Senior Tour tournaments, including the Senior PGA Championship in 1981 and three Senior U.S. Open Championships in a four-year period.

Walt Bellamy – NBA Hall of Famer – 74 years old
The first pick of the 1961 NBA Draft, Bellamy averaged 31.6 points per game as a rookie, but still finished nearly 19 points per game behind NBA scoring champion Wilt Chamberlain (who averaged 50.4 ppg). He went on to average 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game during a 14 year career in which he played for five different franchises.

Paul Blair – Major League Baseball Outfielder – 69 years old
An eight time Gold Glove winner, Blair was a key member of two World Series Champion teams with the Baltimore Orioles. He also won two World Series as a member of the New York Yankees during his 17 year career. Read the rest of this entry →

Can Peyton Manning Finish His Climb to the Top of the NFL Quarterback Mountain? 0

Posted on December 23, 2013 by Dean Hybl
At age 37 and just two years removed from major neck surgery, Peyton Manning is having arguably the finest season of his career.

At age 37 and just two years removed from major neck surgery, Peyton Manning is having arguably the finest season of his career.

After watching Peyton Manning toss four more touchdown passes against the Houston Texans to bring his season total to a new NFL record 51 with a game left in the season, it seems hard to believe that it was just 18 months ago that legitimate questions existed as to whether Manning would ever throw another pass in the NFL.

It is easy now to downplay the severity of his neck injury and the four surgeries that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season and put into play the events that have led him to Denver after spending his first 13 seasons in Indianapolis.

However, in the spring of 2012, it was not over-reacting to question if Manning would ever play in the NFL again, much less wonder if he could ever return to MVP form.

You might wonder now if the Indianapolis Colts might have made a different choice had they been able to look in their crystal ball and see that Manning was going to pass for 10,000 yards and 88 touchdown passes over the next two seasons. Would they have passed on quarterback of the future Andrew Luck to stay with the quarterback of the present in Peyton Manning?

I think if you ask Jim Irsay and the Colts, he would probably say “no”, and that his team made the difficult, but correct decision for the long-term success of his franchise.

Given that Luck has quickly developed into a top-12 NFL quarterback and has led the Colts to consecutive double digit-win seasons and playoff appearances, you have to believe him.

Plus, Irsay saw first-hand what can happen when the team no longer has the services of Manning during their 2-14 disaster campaign of 2011. So even though Manning has been the better player over these two seasons, I’m not sure he would have helped the Colts win many more games and at age 37, he has only so many more seasons left before he rides off into the sunset. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hoyt Wilhem: Knuckleball Workhorse
      April 7, 2014 | 8:51 pm

      The April Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was 29-years-old when he made his major league debut, but still managed to pitch for 21 years and become the first pitcher in MLB history to appear in more than 1,000 games.

      Hoyt Wilhelm made his professional baseball debut as a 19-year-old in 1942, but after serving in World War II (earning a Purple Heart during the Battle of the Bulge) and then spending five years in the minor leagues it wasn’t until 10 years later that he would make his major league debut.

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